For meeting planners, adopting an attendee-first mindset is the most important factor. optimizing attendee experience
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In How Smart Meeting Planners Are Booking the Best Destinations, Part I, Cvent examined how shoulder seasons can offer first-rate savings for meeting and event planners. In this post, we look at ways to enhance the destination experience.
Cocktails by the Temple of Dendur. A group buyout of the hottest nightclub in Vegas. An elephant in your ballroom.
Planners receive accolades from their attendees for these show-stopping experiences – as they should. But how do they make it happen? The answer is, they know somebody.
First-time planners, wailing, “I don’t know anyone!” should take heart: Even a beginner has at least two partners in exceptional planning. These are your host hotel and the destination’s convention and visitors bureau (CVB) or destination marketing organization (DMO).
Savvy hotel guests know that they can always access local treasures by asking the hotel staff about the best places to eat, best nightspots and attractions. At upper-scale properties, a concierge can arrange sensational offsite experiences for small groups. But for larger groups, a hotel’s convention service representative (CSR), or a CVB liaison, can unlock the destination’s “vault” of worthwhile experiences.
A CVB can be a great resource. “CVBs provide information regarding off-season activities,” says Julie-Michelle Davis, planner for the Texas-based American Contractors Insurance Group. “We all know you can ski in Colorado, but it’s not until you learn about other outdoor activities that you realize it can still be a draw.”
Museums with signature collections are also top-of-mind for dazzling receptions. But such venues are almost impossible for visiting planners to book – unless, of course, they know someone with a museum membership.
As part of the community, hotels and CVBs routinely hold museum, club, and private venue memberships, and they are able to negotiate on behalf of their meeting clients when the circumstances are right. Likewise, when a hot venue is part of a larger hotel complex, such as the Hakkasan nightclub at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, the hotel’s CSR can help planners rent out the club for an exclusive conference party.
That’s fine for big meetings, or corporate groups with large pockets, you say. Well, to your destination and venue partners, repeat business is everything. Large or small, these partners all want – need – your repeat business. So even if your group is not a high-profile one, you can always ask your partners for something extra, like reaching to a local celebrity or access to a private golf club. And as long as your satisfaction means you will be looking to come back, they’ll be happy to try.
Recently, for the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress, held in Orlando from Sept. 27-30, that “something extra” was the Elephant in the Room. Literally. To make a point about medical tourism, Roxy, an elephant from nearby Two Tails Ranch sanctuary, strolled through the ballroom during the opening session.
“We have our conference in September every year and, from a value perspective, we think it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” says Jonathan Edelheit, CEO, Medical Tourism Association. “Orlando offers amazing value for anyone putting on a show.”
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